Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Random Routes

Over the course of summer I've done quite a few things which haven't made it onto here for various reasons, so here is a very random selection of routes and a bit of info on them. Most of them are not glowing recommendations, which I guess is why I didn't get round to blogging about them, but I suppose that knowing which routes are bad is as important as knowing which ones are good. 

"Les Copains d'Abord". 6a, 450m. Samoens, Haute Savoie.

This 19 pitch route had been on my "save it for the right day" list for ages, and after snow down to 2000m in early September Matt and I went to check it out. The first pitch has a frankly desperate move, but the proximity of the bolts at that bit suggests that combined tactics are normally used. I was leading and duly pulled on the bolt. Matt was very disapproving but then after much shenanigans he did the same thing, much to my delight. The rest of the route is pretty broken, and although it features some good climbing, the sections of clean rock are so short and the grassy ledges so frequent that I can't really recommend the climb. The descent is also a bit of a pain as there is only the vaguest of paths to follow and it takes quite a good nose to find the way down. All in all not great, but we moved together virtually the whole way and so got a good work out and saw a new area - shame it doesn't have much good climbing.

The following are all in the Aiguilles Rouges, and accessed from the Brevent/Flegere lift sytem.

"Label Virginie", 5+, D+, 250m. Clocher de Planpraz.

Taking the same good rock as "Cocher Cochon", this is a slightly easier route, but good all the same. It is slightly more broken that "Cocher Cochon", and the route isn't quite so obvious, but it features some good climbing all the same, and finishes (if you have time) with the ever fun Clocher Clochetons traverse.

"Voie Gaspard 1er", 6a, D+, 200m. Pointe Gaspard.

A known classic, this route was a bit of a let down. Some of the climbing is excellent but the bolting is poor, with the first bolt of some pitches being 7 or 8 metres up, and with some traversing sections being impossible to protect for the second. The Pointe Gaspard is good summit though, and you could combine it with an ascent of the Aiguilles Crochues.

"Au bord de gouffre", 6a+, TD, 200m. La Cathedrale.

A route with some great climbing, but also some quite loose rock. Most of the pitches are great, but one of the towers at the top of the route, which you're supposed to jump between (The "Carl Lewis moves" as they're described in the guidebook) has completely disappeared, which must have been pretty spectacular when it happened. Not bad overall, worth a half day.

"La Fontes de Jouvance", 5c+, TD, 240m. Aiguille Pourrie.

Another route which has some good climbing but is let down by some loose sections. The final pitch is good but there are plenty of unnattached holds, so pay attention. The traverse to the Col de la Gliere is great though.